Photo Credit: FFA
Photo Credit: FFA
To say the women's football community is shell-shocked following the announcement of the Women's World Cup squad would be an understatement.
There were rumblings as early as Sunday afternoon that the squad selections would throw up one or two surprises with the omission of Brianna Davey whispered as the most notable at that time.
When Matildas head coach Alen Stajcic made today's announcement there was another unexpected omission: Kate Gill.
Both Gill and Davey have been regular members of the national team in the past three years, including at 2014's Asian Cup.
Since debuting in 2012, 19 year old Davey had been a regular member of the Matildas squad with 18 internationals, frequently as the starting goalkeeper.
Gill's CV is even more extensive with over 80 caps, Australia's all time leading goalscorer (men or women), 2010 AFC Asian Player of the Year and, more recently, the W-League Golden Boot for a second time.
Gill's record is a good one with a 1 goal in every two matches average, as well as being positioned second behind Michelle Heyman as the leading W-League goalscorer of all time. This non-selection could spell the end of her international career.
"They were certainly right up there," said Stajcic when pressed on Gill's omission at the press conference.
"There is a point there where you have to make the final cut of 23. At the end of the day when you look at our strike force you can only pick so many."
"We had to make a decision on who is going to be more effective for us at the World Cup. We can't really look at people's history and say they were good 2-3 years ago or they have these records....but the form over the past four months was the most important for us."
"Katie missed out by a small inch but they are the cuts that need to be made at this level."
Davey's omission has had longer to percolate with injury and form the most mentioned reasons. They are reasons that have not satisfied many, particularly when just over a month ago she started for Australia in a 1-1 draw against Scotland.
When questioned about the goalkeeper Stajcic stated:
"It's not that one is better than the other its more consistency and the other three have certainly been more consistent over that period [of four months]."
Selected in Davey's stead are veteran Melissa Barbieri and Mackenzie Arnold. Barbieri and Arnold are the last two winners of the W-League Goalkeeper of the Year.
"Melissa Barbieri has probably been the most consistent of all the goalkeepers," Stajcic said. "Her consistency and her organisational and communication is probably the best in the team."
"Mackenzie Arnold is the same. We originally didn't pick her in the first 32 going into camp 1. She had a few issues that she needed to address and she came back in just bigger and stronger and forced her way into the team."
"Lydia has been very impressive since she has come back. She has been tremendous and way above the level I thought she would come back at in such a quick period of time."
"This is one tournament. These are the players who are in the best form at the moment," he continued. "The Olympic Games qualifiers which are our next major tournament are in February next year, some-one like Brianna Davey could be the number one keeper within that period."
"She has got that much ability. It's certainly not her ability that is the question mark. Her consistency is something that needs to improve."
"So long as she can get that maturity and consistency, and she is only a young player at 20, I can certainly see her featuring in that Olympic Games squad."
The players are, from all reports, inconsolable.
At this point in time there is considerable emotion swirling around with shock and anger predominant. Serious questions, and accusations, have been levelled at the Matildas selection team from friends, family and those within the Victorian football development, with many privately, and publicly, questioning the selection process off Matildas players generally.
It's a selection process that the public are not, and probably will never be, privy to. However, it must be noted, it has been a five month long process that has involved countless matches that have almost exclusively been unavailable to the public (that is an ongoing issue). In effect, it is difficult for an outsider to objectively judge whether the decisions are warranted or not.
The selections have also raised accusations of Sydney FC bias as Stajcic was the former coach of the Sky Blues.
Although, from a study of the numbers, that doesn't bear up with the squad consisting of seven Brisbane Roar players, five from Sydney FC players, four from Perth Glory, three from Canberra United, two from Melbourne Victory and one each from the Newcastle Jets and Adelaide United.
It is also similar to other World Cup squads with France naming 10 players from Lyon alone and 16 from two clubs alone (Lyon and Juvisy), Spain has selected 8 players from Barcelona alone and 13 from two clubs (Barcelona and Atletic Bilbao) while Japan has 7 players from INAC Kobe Leonessa.
On the men's side Germany's 2014 World Cup winning squad had 7 players from Bayern Munich and 11 from two clubs (Bayern and Dortmund). In fact, it's a trend that generally runs through world football.
In a pure State analysis (considering residence/development) NSW sees 9 players, Queensland 8 players and two each from the ACT, Victoria and WA.
These numbers are not too dissimilar to the make up of Matildas World Cup squads in 2011, 2007, 2003 and 1999, with NSW and Queensland the dominant states.
But perception can be seen as reality.
Eyebrows have also been raised in relation to the number of nominated defenders with only 5 on the squad.
In comparison France, Japan, England, the United States and Spain have named 8 defenders while Sweden named 7. Given Australia's defensive record since the 2011 World Cup, where there have been very few clean sheets, it is a big call.
In fact there are many significant calls, brave calls and possibly career defining calls.
If the last 12 - 18 months has shown anything in football is that there appears to be little room left for sentiment.
In the United States Tom Sermanni, a former Matildas coach, was unceremoniously dismissed from his position as US coach, Hesterine de Reus suffered the same fate in Australia, Ange Postecoglou tapped long serving Socceroos' on the shoulder and then came under fire himself, while in America some quarters are baying for the blood of the most prolific goal scorer in football history (men's or women's), Abby Wambach.
In the end, as it did for Postecoglou, it will come down to results and a true assessment can only be made at the final whistle of the Matildas' Women's World Cup campaign.